It’s the classic story. Boy and girl meet, boy and girl get married, boy and girl max out their paychecks and buy a giant house that they can “grow into” as they start their family.
That was us.
After we got married, I had a sudden and immediate urge to move out of my tiny, but perfect sized for us condo. I have no idea what came over me – I just had to do it NOW. My husband went along with my frenzied search and ideas about what we could afford. Just a few short weeks later we found the most amazing beautiful house right on the mountain where we spend most of our free time. It was perfect. It even had a spectacular back yard with a pond and enough room to garden until my heart’s content. We could be at home and decide to go for a flight, pack our wings up and hike to launch. We could technically afford this house, but it came at a lifestyle cost that neither of us really fully considered until after we had been in the house for a while.
The stress started after about six months. I felt like I had to stay at a job that I used to like but then didn’t totally like because I was scared to change my financial situation due to our mortgage. I also realized that if we were to have kids, I wouldn’t be able to stay at home with them for more than a few weeks unless I started saving a huge amount of money. This made me work more and stress out more.
At home, we were involved in endless projects. Turns out that giant perfect yard was a 7-10 hour per week commitment. The house became less of a cozy home as a burden to manage. Guess how many times we actually took advantage of our living on our paragliding mountain? Once! That’s it!
At the end of the 16th month that we lived there, Matt and I had a heart to heart. I had read ‘The Three Big Questions for a Frantic Family’ by Patrick Lencioni and decided to implement some of the advice from the book. Ultimately, we mapped out what was important to us and then started evaluating how we spend our time and our money. Turns out, the two didn’t match.
As much as I loved that house and I had thought that we were there to stay and raise a family, it turns out deep down, that’s not what I really wanted. I wanted to enjoy my time with my new husband adventuring and exploring the world. I wanted to go out to dinner and enjoy my experience rather than regret spending money on a meal that could be applied to my “stay at home” fund. This conversation actually turned up that my husband wasn’t really on board with the house purchase in the beginning, but he went along with it because he thought it was what I wanted. It was a fantastic conversation to have with my partner – something I wish we would have done before we bought our giant dream house.
That night, as we finished our second bottle of wine and reveled in our newfound enlightenment, we made the decision: we would sell the house that we had worked so hard to restore. At first I was embarrassed. Who buys a house and then sells it 18 months later? But the feeling of freedom washed over me as I considered my life where I didn’t have to worry so much about money. My husband and I both work full time and at the time, we were barely able to save anything because of that mortgage. I was excited to get back to a place where we were in a “right size for now” house and could enjoy spending our time doing something other than worrying about the yard. We decided that we would slowly get the house ready and start shopping around to see what our place might be worth. That night, I went onto Zillow and updated our address to “Make me Move” just to show our intent of eventually moving.
Thanks to the housing market and Zillow, we had three offers within the next three weeks and the house was sold to a lovely family three weeks after that. It was a whirlwind time for us, but we enjoyed the freedom that we “bought” by selling our giant home. We moved back into my husband’s townhouse until we can figure out where we want to live. At the time we sold the house, we thought we were headed for a different state but we were fortunate enough to welcome our baby girl into the world this year so we decided to stay put for a while, at least until we can get a little more sleep.
I’m happy to report that both of us couldn’t imagine a life better than the one we have now. We have enough space, way less stress, much more time for each other and our new daughter and we took the money we made off of our home and bought a camper. Our crazy house sale helped us to get outside and enjoy a life much more aligned to our true desires and passions. It is true that I still complain about living so far away from friends and not having enough room for certain things, but in reality, we have plenty – we have enough.
And yes, I am saving as much money as possible so we can purchase an amazing home when we can figure out where we want to be and we can truly afford it without taking such a lifestyle hit.
Every year, on the anniversary of making that big decision, we go out to a nice dinner and start working through the process again. What are we doing that is good, bad, and indifferent. What do we want to change and why. What are the big goals we want to achieve together this year and what are the individual goals for which we need support. We have a relationship that is built on open communication, but its great to have one time of year where we sit down, open a bottle or two of great wine and evaluate everything. Then we have fun setting a plan for how to make it happen. It feels like a marital version of a year-end review, but it worked for us!
Anyone else have a similar story?